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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bread, Milk, and TP—The Roll Story

“I’ve got to get bread and milk. It’s snowing.”

I glared at Bill, who was selfishly refusing to leave the Panthers in a fourth-down-and-goal-to-go situation for an essential grocery store run during one of the fiercest storms we’d had in South Carolina all winter.

“Amy, you’ve seen three alleged snowflakes in the past half hour, two of which I believe to be fuzz on your glasses. I just don’t see the need to go to Defcon One over dryer lint.”

“OK, smart guy, what are we supposed to do for food?”

“Well, since you went grocery shopping yesterday, I suggest we take a quick trip to the big white box in the kitchen and stroll down the frozen food aisle.”

“Very funny. What if the power goes out?”

“What about th the gas grill? You know that thing doesn’t freeze up in the winter like that box of dry ice you call a car.”

I sighed and looked out the window. In minutes we would be blanketed in snow up to our shoetops and my husband was endangering our lives and caloric intake with his overly cautious attitude. Inspiration struck as suddenly as the snowflakes I’d been waiting for all winter.

“We’re out of toilet paper.”

“Well what are we waiting for? Put something on over those shorts and let’s hit the road.” Bill grabbed his hat and was backing the pickup down the driveway by the time I hit the screen door.

As we approached the grocery store, we noticed disruptions in the traffic patterns. News helicopters hovered overhead, radioing reports into hectic newsrooms. Cars filled the supermarket parking lot, and shoppers with upturned faces struggled to push overloaded buggies against the flow of traffic, people, and weather.

Rare items such as snowflakes big enough to see without bifocals and a decent bullpen for the Braves make the news in the South. Down here we don’t interrupt Wheel of Fortune every time a tornado sucks up a trailer.

We parked in the overflow lot and caught the next available tram to the door. Once inside, I reached to take the last shopping cart, but a white-haired woman in a powder blue overcoat rapped my knuckles sharply with a flowered umbrella, grabbed the cart, and hurtled away toward the wine coolers.

“You get the bread, I’ll do some reconnaissance work in paper products,” Bill shouted over his shoulder as he sprinted past a crowd of people battling over a small pile of fireplace kindling. “Meet me on aisle six in half an hour.”

I muscled my way through the crowd until I came to a knot of people trying to force its way down the bread aisle like an armada of plastic boats in the bathtub drain. Caught up in a sudden current, I was swept down the length of the bread aisle and deposited neatly at the other end between the ice cream cooler, which was empty, and the frozen vegetable case, which was packed full. Apparently dependence on the food pyramid isn’t an issue during times of weather crisis.

I began to see a trend. I also saw my husband, wrestling with a small boy over the rights to a battered roll of Scott Tissue. I motioned frantically just as the boy administered a sharp kick to the shin. Bill limped toward me, muttering under his breath.

“Five more minutes and that kid would’ve hit the dirt,” he grumbled. “The Surgeon General should post a warning at the entrance to this store.”

Honestly, if that man would keep his attitude right, he’d have a much better outlook on life.

“Have you noticed a similarity between shopping today and the Saturday before the Super Bowl?” I screamed conspiratorially over the din of crashing shopping carts.

“Hey you’re right. All the important stuff is gone. Jerky strips, string cheese, beer...”

“And milk, bread, and toilet paper,” I finished, smartly plucking a pack of Charmin from the top of a passing cart.

Some time later, we set our sights on the flashing light over register seven and headed toward the front, with Bill bravely pulling our overloaded cart like an Iditarod sled dog. I mushed from behind, our buggy loaded with representatives from all major food groups: salt, sugar, crunchy, orange, and meat by-products.

Looking back at my fellow shoppers, I realized that in the sunny South, where breathing in summer humidity is like snorting boiled cotton balls, winter snow isn’t just a handful of frozen water.

It’s another reason to party.


Anonymous said...

Very funny! We had over 100 inches of snow this winter, this may be the first story about snow to make me smile!

Hilary said...

Your story-telling is hilarious. And you can have our near-record snowfall winter anytime.

the Bag Lady said...

Amy, you crack me up! The tornado sucking up a trailer comment made me howl - up here, tornadoes are such big news, they still talk about the one that hit Edmonton 20 years ago! But snow? Ha.

plaidearthworm said...

It's the same over here in my corner of the South, too. At the bottom of every winter storm warning, there's invisible type that reads: 'And get to the store, quick!' Newcomers from the North just stare and shake their heads, until they realize that if they don't get in there with the rest of us, they won't be able to buy Cheetos, Twinkies and corn dogs for a week. ;)

Carolyn Erickson said...

Loved the image of you plucking some Charmin out of someone else's cart. :D

Shannan Powell said...

I can totally relate to this! Though I'm not in the deeper part of the south, even the mention of snow in the forecast is enough to clear the grocery store shelves of bread, milk, and TP! Friends who actually get snow laugh hysterically at the stories of how the world stops here at a half an inch...